‘It’s just quiet’: Water safety and the signs of drowning




How to avoid preventable drowning deaths



From CTV Kitchener’s Maleeha Sheikh: Drowning is believed to be responsible for hundreds of deaths in Canada every year

    CTV Kitchener
    Published Thursday, June 7, 2018 8:01AM EDT 

    As the temperatures rise in the coming weeks of summer many will be looking for ways to cool down, especially in swimming pools.

    The Canadian Red Cross says hundreds of people die each year from drowning in lakes, ponds or pools and they say many of these deaths are preventable.

    One parent says a common misconception is that someone who is drowning or struggling to swim will be obvious to any onlooker.

    Safety experts warn the signs of drowning aren't always as dramatic as some people believe.

    “You think you’re going hear them scream but it’s just quiet, and it can be a disaster,” says Nathan Vanmackelberg.


    He says that’s why he’s investing in swimming lessons for his children.

    Dave Millar, the city of Kitchener’s supervisor of aquatics, says teaching your kids to swim is important and so is keeping a close watch on them when they’re in the water.

    “If you’re up on the deck having a drink with your guest you’re not within arm’s reach,” says Millar. “It can happen so fast, it’s something you can’t take back.”

    He says drowning can happen in shallow water as well so it's important to stay close at hand even if you believe your child is a strong swimming.

    Safety experts warn there’s never a bad time to prepare and you’re never too old to learn how to swim.

    Children can drown very quickly and quietly, even in just a few centimetres of water

    Did you know...

    Swimming safety

    Did you know that one of the leading causes of death in children ages 1 to 4 is drowning? Carefully supervise your children, secure the area around your backyard pool and teach your children about water safety. This can help prevent serious injuries and death.

    Supervising children

    Keep young children and inexperienced swimmers in view and within arm's reach at all times when they are in water. This will reduce the risk of serious injury.

    Carefully supervising your children while they are swimming or playing in or near water is necessary at all times. Children should be closely monitored even when they use swimming aids such as armbands, floating seats, water wings and neck rings. These devices are not intended to save lives. Swimming aids can give a false sense of security, which could result in a lack of proper supervision. Careful supervision is essential to keep children safe.

    Here are some more tips to help keep your children safe around water.

    • Help your children learn about water safety by signing them up for a swimming and water safety program, sign yourself up for first aid training to learn basic lifesaving skills.
    • Make sure young children and inexperienced swimmers always wear an approved lifejacket or personal flotation device when playing around water. Learn how to find the right lifejacket or personal flotation device for your children.
    • Choose a safe place to swim, such as a supervised beach or public swimming pool. Check with your municipality for health and safety notices before wading into the water. This can include warnings about water pollution levels or a strong undertow.

    Did you know...

    Children can drown very quickly and quietly, even in just a few centimetres of water. Lock access to all water (even shallow portable pools) when an adult is not present.

    Pool safety

    Every year children drown in backyard swimming pools. Children ages 1 to 4 are most at risk. Here are a few tips to secure the area around your swimming pool and help keep children safe.

    Build a fence

    Many children drown in unsecured backyard pools. Build a fence around your pool to help prevent drowning accidents.

    • Build a fence that is at least 1.2 metres high all the way around your pool.
    • Check with your town or city to find out the rules for building a pool fence.
    • Install a gate that is self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be beyond a child's reach. Keep the gate locked at all times.
    • Keep toys, garden furniture and tools away from the pool fence. Children can climb up on these items to get over the fence and into the pool.

    Prepare for pool safety

    Be prepared for pool safety or emergencies.

    • Keep lifesaving equipment (such as a safety ring with a rope) and a first aid kit near the pool.
    • Keep emergency phone numbers by the telephone closest to the pool.

    Clean up after pool time

    After swimming in the pool, make sure you take the time to clean up properly.

    • Put toys away after pool time. Leaving toys in or around the pool can tempt children to go get them and put themselves in danger.
    • Keep a safety cover on your pool when it is not in use.


    why your child should learn to swim this summer!


    Why your child should learn to swim

    Reasons why your child should learn to swim are many and varied. You need to give your child the chance to learn to swim.

    The most important reason is that swimming is the only sport which can save your child’s life.

    Drowning is still one of the most common causes of accidental death in children, so being able to swim is an essential life-saving skill.

    Other reasons why your child should learn to swim

    Swimming is lots of fun for people of all ages and children especially love getting in the water and enjoying themselves.

    But it is not just fun, swimming also provides loads of health benefits which can help to keep your children healthy and happy at the same time:

    • Swimming keeps your child’s heart and lungs healthy, improves strength and flexibility, increases stamina and even improves balance and posture

    Another great thing about swimming is that children of any age or ability can take part and it is more accessible for children with additional needs than almost any other sport.

    • Swimming provides challenges and rewards accomplishments, which helps children to become self-confident and believe in their abilities
    • Your child will have plenty of opportunities to make friends and grow in confidence

    But health, fun, and confidence are not the only reasons why your child should learn to swim. Learning to swim also opens up the door to a range of other activities.

    A few sports your child can only do if they can swim

    1. Kayaking
    2. Canoeing
    3. Scuba diving
    4. Surfing
    5. Triathlon
    6. Yachting.

    Learning to swim is a skill that once learnt is rarely forgotten and it is open to people of all ages. There are even swimming events for people over 100, and a few Masters swimmers who are still swimming past this age.

    Remember, you can’t always be there. Learning to swim may save their life one day





    water safety and prevention

    Water Safety in Addition to Skills

    Though important, swimming skills alone aren't always enough to save a life. Many drowning incidents involve other factors that swimming skills alone cannot prepare an individual for. Learning water safety-such as how to prepare for an emergency, and what to do if one should occur-is key to preventing an emergency in or on the water. It's swimming skills combined with safety knowledge and skills that saves lives.

    The Red Cross Swim program teaches both swimming skills and water safety. The infant and preschool program, Red Cross Swim Preschool, teaches caregivers strategies on how to effectively supervise children around water and teaches preschoolers not to go near the water without an adult.


    Active supervision

    • The absence of adult supervision is a factor in most child drownings.
    • Whether it's a pool, the bathtub, a water park, or the beach, always watch children actively around water-even if they can swim.
    • Consider requiring all non-swimmers to wear a lifejacket to keep them at the surface to assist you while supervising.

    Backyard pools

    • Backyard pools are especially dangerous for small children. Ensure adequate barriers are in place such as four-sided fencing along with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
    • Empty portable toddler pools after each use.


    For many Canadian families, summer includes activities such as boating and swimming.

    But each year, tragic and avoidable water-related fatalities occur across Canada. A Canadian Red Cross report examining these fatalities over 10 years revealed many common factors:

    • Young children ages 1 to 4 and men ages 15 to 44 are at the greatest risk of drowning.

    • Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for Canadian children ages one to four.

    • A small child can disappear in seconds and can drown in only a few centimetres of water—enough to cover the mouth and nose. Typically these drownings occur in backyard pools, toddler pools, the bathtub, or at the beach.

    • Small children are also the most vulnerable group for near drownings. For every death, there are an estimated four to ve additional near-drowning incidents, which require hospitalization and often result in varying degrees of brain damage.

    • Infants and toddlers drowned mainly in bathtubs and pools, whereas older children and youth drowned mainly in large bodies of water.

    • Other factors for adults in water-related fatalities included current and alcohol consumption.